Joint Forum of ACHPR Special Mechanisms Makes Recommendations for Human Rights Promotion in Africa

Hon.Commissioner Remy Ngoy Lumbu, Chairperson of ACHPR

The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights has outlined a series of  recommendations targeted at various stakeholders on the protection and promotion of human rights on the continent, particularly within the context of the African Union’s human rights and governance agenda.

The Commission convened the inaugural Joint Forum of the Special Mechanisms of the African Commission on Human and People’ Rights in Dakar, Senegal to reflect on the state of human rights on the continent, measure the gains, identify the key challenges, and commonly identify how the Commission may better contribute to human rights protection and promotion on the continent.

Other objectives of the meeting were to review and reflect on the strides made by the Commission in human rights advocacy, recognizing achievements and understanding the impediments faced by its special mechanisms and possible strategies for their enhanced effectiveness.

The Commission also met to critically assess the state of ratification and enforcement of human rights instruments, identifying gaps and catalysing action for enhanced protection and promotion of human rights; and to foster an exchange of experiences, promoting partnerships that bridge the gap between aspirations and realities on the ground.

The Joint Forum had 119 participants including 11 Commissioners, 23 representatives from States Parties, 11 AU Organs, Department and Specialized Institutions, 4 representatives of international organizations, 14 representatives from National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs), 16 representatives from Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), 9 from Academia, in addition to 31 staff members from the Commission’s Secretariat.

Participants at the joint forum expressed concern in certain areas cincluding the slow rate of ratification of human rights instruments; gaps in implementation and enforcement of ratified instruments for various reasons, such as cultural norms and barriers, political resistance, limited resources, and lack of awareness or understanding; reservations made on some instruments which impede the full realization of enshrined human rights; lack of sensitization of the citizens on the human rights instruments which the State intend to ratify, and the issues which will be addressed therein; and knowledge gap among Government officials on the instruments which have been adopted by their State, among others.

At the end of the meeting, the joint forum came up with a Declaration in which it made a number of recommendations targeted at various stakeholders including State Parties, the Commission, AU Organs/departments with a human rights’ mandate, National Human Rights Institutions, Civil Society Organisations, International Partners, Judicial and Quasi-Judicial Bodies, and Academia.

The Declaration called on State parties to ensure universal ratification and domestication of all human rights instruments, in particular the Protocols to the African Charter on the Rights of Women in Africa, on the Rights of Older Persons, on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, on the Rights of Citizens to Social Protection and Social Security, and the Protocol relating to specific aspects of the right to nationality and the eradication of statelessness.

It also asked States to establish national mechanisms such as Inter-Ministerial mechanisms, to advocate for ratification and implementation of human rights instruments at the national level; and ensure that National Action Plans on human rights include ratification and implementation of human rights instruments, among others.

The Declaration recommended that the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights should, among other things, ensure effective implementation of the complementarity with the African Court which will contribute to growing human rights jurisprudence and enhance human rights and the rule of law in Africa; engage with the African Court and African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child on joint sensitization seminars on ratification of human rights instruments; and enhance synergies with other AU human rights organs which monitor implementation of human rights instruments to reduce the reporting burdens on States Parties.

It asked that AU Organs/departments with a human rights’ mandate encourage ratification and implementation of human rights instruments; and ensure synergy in disseminating regional human rights instruments between all Organs and departments.

The Declaration recommended that National Human Rights Institutions should work with the Commission to disseminate regional instruments and its soft law; mainstream dissemination of the Commission’s soft laws in their work; and conduct initiatives with the Commission in order to enhance synergies on the promotion and protection of human rights.

It urged International partners to provide States Parties with adequate support for the implementation and dissemination of regional human rights instruments; assist States Parties to translate regional instrument and soft law into the local languages spoken in the various States Parties; and partner with the African Governance Architecture Platform members to ensure digital transformation of their work, as a means to enhance citizen engagement.

The Declaration recommended that Judicial and Quasi-Judicial Bodies should draw inspiration from the case law of the African human rights mechanisms; and utilize the regional instruments and soft law of the regional human rights bodies, particularly lawyers.

It called on the Academia to develop a compendium of jurisprudence from the regional human rights bodies; and conduct research on key areas on enhancing citizens engagement at all levels.